The Guilt Trap
Okay… So it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. How are you feeling?
Happy and successful – in that you stuck to your commitment to enjoy just the Thanksgiving meal and not derail your healthy eating habits for the rest of the weekend?
Or are you feeling miserable because you missed the mark either partway or entirely and went on somewhat of a binge for the whole 4-day holiday weekend? Well, if that’s the case – and you’re feeling stuffed, sorrowful and depressed on this Monday morning after (or whenever)… Get over it.
Despite what most of us think (and, therefore, act upon), feeling guilty does not aid the dieting or goal setting processes at all. Believe me when I tell you that I know all too well from experience that including the exercise of feeling guilty after a binge into our “cheating routines” actually works against us and becomes so familiar, that it can become cyclical and lead back to cheating in a very short amount of time.
Feeling guilty is something us dieters are overly familiar with. Liken it to atoning for our sins, if you will. We know we didn’t just stop eating too much. We know we’re feeling stuffed into our clothes (and even bodies) as a result – and now we feel like participating in a whole lot of “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” along with “I’m a weak and bad person” self talk is part of what we have to go through to make up for our shortcomings. But in actuality, nothing could be further than the truth.
The reason some of us ‘cheated’ over the long weekend was less about a fall from grace than it was acting on old habits. In our pasts, holidays and special occasions were always a ‘good’ reason to break our dieting efforts. Add to that the eating holiday that Thanksgiving represents, followed by a very long weekend to boot? It’s a cheater’s holiday. But even if we ate our way from Thursday to Sunday, there’s really no purpose in feeling crappy today. In other words, it’s time to move on.
So what? You cheated. You ate too much. Blah-blah-blah.
Guess what? A lot of “normal sized” and “thin people” did the same thing. The holidays can be tempting eating experiences for many people (no matter if they’re eating for the taste of it or as a means to escape some holiday- and/or family-related anxieties).
Despite what some well studied shrinks might assert, I believe that thinking about the ‘why it happened’ doesn’t serve us. Thinking about the ‘why I must never do it again’ doesn’t serve us. And certainly the ‘I must make myself feel very bad and very guilty today and for the rest of the week’ doesn’t serve us either.
In fact, whatever beats down our self esteem actually serves the ‘cheating monster’ we all fear we have inside. When we feel negative about ourselves and our lives (not to mention our bodies and our health), why would we want to bother to eat right or exercise? We wouldn’t. Guilty consciences don’t lead to never doing it again. They lead to feeling miserable. And feeling miserable leads to choices that can make us even more miserable.
So again, I urge you to get over it.
Today is a new day. The beginning of a new week. And a brilliant opportunity for you to remind yourself, “That was then, this is now.” And all we have is the now.
So let’s embrace this new day and focus on what’s good in our lives. We’re living. We’re breathing. And we’re in this together. Just your showing up here to read this blog post shows that you have what it takes to move beyond the binge and get healthy, get sexy and get used to the success that you deserve.
Feeling guilty serves as a trap that we count on to lead us right back to binges, cheating and other behaviors that keep us from our goals.
Let’s stop being our own worst enemies, shall we?
So abandon the guilt and move forward – with a bright outlook that doesn’t chastise your shortcomings, but builds up your self esteem. I believe in you. So you cheated? So what. Been there, done that. On many Thanksgiving weekends in the past – and even sometimes in the present. But I still managed to take off over 250 pounds of excess body weight and keep it off for over a decade. And trust me, my friends – if I can do it, you can do it. And I did it (and keep doing it) without guilt or self-hatred.
So out with the old (way of thinking) and in with the new (way of thinking). Together we can put the shame and misery that used to plague us behind us – forever. We are moving on… Starting… now!
What a great article!! And I didn’t even overeat for Thanksgiving. But guilt comes in many areas of our lives and this was an inspiration that I truly needed. I love that you said “get over it”. Sometimes we just need to do that and move on immdieatley.
Thank you for being such a wonderful cheerleader for food and life. Cheryl in Sarasota
Thanks for the positive feedback, Cheryl. I wrestle with guilt a lot – in regard to many topics and issues. So I’m glad what I wrote spoke to you (and hopefully others). When it comes to “Getting over it,” I’m often reminded of that great scene from the movie, “Moonstruck,” during which Cher’s character slaps Nicolas Cage’s character and says, “Snap out of it!” Sometimes I just need a slap from Cher! LOL!
Moderation is hard to follow especially over the Thanksgiving weekend. We all indulge–think of all the holidays ahead of us–but just hold back a little. It helps me with the guilt factor while also enjoying the holidays as well. Gregg, you’re a great inspiration to us all and I enjoy reading your blogs. If all else fails, run an extra 3 miles the next day!!
It’s you who motivates me (and so many others), Al. Thanks for your post — and your reflections. Tis the season, right? 😉